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Tourism is the world’s largest and fastest growing industry and can be defined as the totality of the relationship and phenomenon arising from travel and education purposes of people, provided the stay does not imply the establishment of a permanent residence and is not connected with remunerated activity. While it may boost a country’s economy, doubts about the overall benefits of tourism are reinforced by the belief that tourism brings adverse social and cultural effects. As an industry, it may be have several impacts on a country, both good and bad.
Tourism is a main source of income to developing countries. When tourists come to these countries, they usually spend foreign currency. These foreign exchange may help to increase developments in the country and thereby accelerates economic growth. Income from tourism in the form of foreign exchange earnings are added to the national income and this leads to improvements of infrastructure, public services, building of hospitals, schools and even hotels, which will in turn bring more tourists and thus increase the national income to a further extent.
A World Tourism Conference held in Manila stated that “ World tourism can help to eradicate the widening gap between developed and developing countries and ensure the steady acceleration of economic and social development, in particular of developing countries. ’’ Most of the under-developed and developing countries are located in the South East Asia and Middle East. But these countries have a great potential for tourism as there are many places of historical and archaeological interests, which attract tourists.
It should be noted that tourism is a vital and important industry in developing countries. This is so because developing countries are characterised as poor nations who rely more on income from their primary sector, which ironically enough, is not so profitable. So if they can develop their tourism sector, they will be able to prosper with the foreign currency received and it will also help them to alleviate poverty to some extent. Furthermore, it has been proved that tourism can lead to an improvement in the balance of payment of a country to some extent. You may also be interested in “Advantages and Disadvantages of Free Market System”
One country in the South East Asia who experienced this change was Malaysia. In an effort to diversify the economy and make Malaysia’s economy less dependent on exported goods, the government has pushed to increase tourism in Malaysia. As a result, tourism has become Malaysia’s largest source of income. In 1999, Malaysia launched a worldwide marketing campaign called “Malaysia Truly Asia” which was successful in bringing in over 7. 4million tourists. Thus, Malaysia has made a big step in its economy and also in its developments.
In the same line of thought, tourism is a generator of jobs. Being a labour intensive sector, it provides both direct and indirect employment. In November 2010, statistics showed that more than 10million people were directly employed in hotels across the world. Tourism provides direct employment in the sense that people are employed in the businesses that sell goods and services to the tourists such as hotels, restaurants and so on. These businesses employ both skilled and semi-skilled people.
Examples of skilled people are those involved in specialised jobs like managers and accountants and semi-skilled people are those jobs which do not require a specific training like porters and gardeners. The indirect employment is in the form of agriculture, food processing, handcrafts, taxi drivers, vegetable sellers as well as transport businesses. By providing employment, tourism has somehow lead to a reduction in poverty. When people are employed in hotels, they are able to earn a minimum income so that they can survive and buy the basic necessities they need. Read about lifestyle of the poor and rich
This provision of employment has not only reduced the gap between the rich and poor but has also lead to equality. On the flip side of the coin, there is evidence showing that employment in the tourism industry has negative effects on family life. People working in hotels, especially during night shifts, barely spend time with their children and in some way, these children may not perform well at school due to a lack of guidance from the parents. Moreover, there is also exploitation of workers in the tourist industry.
Some workers may be given more responsibilities to shoulder, some have to work at odd hours and most workers are not well paid. This may have a bad effect on their health as the work is tiring and difficult. Tourism may even create unemployment in a country. Nowadays there is a shifting of labour from the agricultural to the tourism sector. When this movement occurs, the agricultural industry will become barren, that is, it will cause unemployment and thus, the neglection of this sector may lead to food shortages which may have a serious impact on the balance of payment.
Unemployment in the tourism industry is likely to arise in times of economic recession. In periods of economic crisis, prices of goods and services are expected to rise. Due to this, if the cost of air tickets increases, people will not be keen to travel which will result in a decline of number of tourists’ visits and thus create unemployment. If there a fewer tourists, foreign currency revenue will diminish and hotel owners will not be able to cover their labour costs. Therefore, workers may be sacked, thus creating a situation of unemployment.
Though tourism leads to economic development in the country, it may also lead to environmental degradation and deforestation. This is so because when the state and hotel owners receive foreign currency, they will tend to build more hotels and turn towards more developments in the country. For these things to take place, the government obviously needs to make use of more resources and due to this, natural reserves and parks may be demolished. Also it should be noted that if the natural resources are destroyed for the settlement of hotels, it may be a disadvantage for everyone in the country.
For example, in Maurtius , when tourists come to visit our island, they do not just want to spend their time in hotels, but they are keen to visit our historical and natural heritages, such as the ‘Casela Park’, ‘Crocodile Park’ , our unique beaches and the ‘ Aapravasi Ghat’ . It is these places that attract tourists and if the state itself plans to destroy them, then tourists will not be interested in visiting Mauritius. Both Mauritius’s economy and population will be affected by this. Tourism not only affects a country’s economy, but also its culture.
Being mainly a cultural phenomenon, tourism develops communications between different cultures. Thoughts, lifestyles, traditions, knowledge and much more are shared among people from different religions and races. Travelling to foreign countries definitely broadens man’s knowledge. By discovering new places and lifestyles, one not only develops a sense of appreciation and respect for that specific culture, but also learns a lot about a different way of life, what pleasures lie in it and what difficulties people face across the globe.
Most importantly, travelling helps, in some way, to reduce racism. For instance, tourists who come to Mauritius learn about our multiracial and multiculturalism society. Even world-famous economist, Joseph Stiglitz, stated that he was impressed by how we all live peacefully together, in spite of our different religions. He even said that big countries like the USA should take Mauritius as an example! Thus, tourism not only creates and cements a strong friendship between different people of different cultures, but may also promote a country’s reputation worldwide.
Conversely, there is the opposite view that intercultural encounters are less desired by tourists that often assume that a country owns only natural resources like beaches and parks. They visit the country and return without the knowledge of the country’s culture, traditions, customs, lifestyles, and political aspirations of the host country. This lack of interest is mainly due to the image-making brochures of the tour-operators who, motivated by high profits, will display only things like beaches, luxurious hotels and resorts, cruise ships, and so on.
The tour guides are often culturally ill-prepared for their mediating function and are oriented towards commercialisation. Thus, tourists have no idea about a country’s culture and are therefore more interested in the beaches than the different lifestyles. Also, the lifestyles of tourists may have a negative impact on the way of life of the host country’s population. It has created a state of acculturation, which means that the local people tend to be influence by the lifestyles of the tourists. They try to imitate the tourists, thinking that their lifestyle is more modern than theirs.
Due to this, the host country’s people change their dress code and habits with aim to match the tourist’s lifestyle. Some even tend to consume drugs in attempt to modernise their way of life. Prostitution may also thrive in tourism resorts because of the permissiveness in the country. In the light of the above statements, we can conclude that tourism has numerous effects on a country, both positive and negative. While it may improve or worsen a country’s economy, it may as well improve or aggravate a country’s culture and lifestyle.
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